The Advisory Career

The State of Entrepreneurship

SBA Administrator Delivers State of Entrepreneurship Address at Nasdaq MarketSite

WASHINGTON, Feb. 15, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Maria Contreras-Sweet, head of the U.S. Small Business Administration and a member of President Obama’s Cabinet, delivered a compelling State of Entrepreneurship address at the Nasdaq Marketsite in New York City Friday.

As the voice of entrepreneurs in President Obama’s Cabinet, Contreras-Sweet’s message resonated for the assembled audience of entrepreneurs, small business owners, community leaders, bankers and the financial industry, especially her comment “From Main Street to Wall Street, the state of entrepreneurship is strong. But without our serious attention, it won’t stay that way.”

Throughout her remarks she touched the pulse of the American economy noting that important changes that have taken place over the past seven years as the nation has been in recuperation and rebuilding.

She also noted that, while U.S. entrepreneurship is strong, demographics are changing rapidly. “There’s an increased focus on gender equity, which is long overdue. The clean energy revolution is real and gaining momentum. The new gig economy has people working in ways we’d never dreamed of and is disrupting entrenched economic interests,” Contreras-Sweet said.

Welcome to the Country of Small Business

Contreras-Sweet also emphasized the importance and impact that small businesses make in the world economy: “If our small business sector were a country, our output would rank No. 3 above Germany and Japan. Small firms employ half of the private sector. They’re creating 2 out 3 net, new jobs.”

To keep lending strong and robust Contreras-Sweet called for more banks to be active SBA lenders. Just a third of America’s 6,200 banks are active SBA lenders to date. “We need America’s big banks fully in the game.

Those banks rethinking their retrenchment are adding value to their books. Charge-offs and delinquencies for commercial loans are at their lowest rate in nearly a decade. So today, I challenge all banks to re-engage in small business lending. You’ll be doing a service to your country and your institution’s bottom line,” she added.

According to the latest Census data from December, minority ownership is up 38 percent over five years. These firms provide 7 million jobs. Women’s ownership rates are up 27 percent, employing 8 million workers. “Women and minorities own record numbers of businesses, but they can’t afford the capital to grow. Hispanics and African-Americans represent 25 percent of the population . . . Yet only one percent of VC capital flows to Hispanic or black entrepreneurs. Does anyone honestly believe these communities are the source of just one percent of our best business ideas?” said Contreras-Sweet.



  • On Families
    At the same time and, in part, because of some of these changes, too many families are working harder and harder and finding it tough to hold on, let alone move up the social ladder. This shift is playing out at kitchen tables as families sit down to pay their bills, and it’s playing out in political races all around the country. You see the tension all around us, if you just look. Within blocks of here, there are billionaires from around the globe buying condos for north of a hundred million dollars.  A new report found that 62 people control half of the world’s personal wealth. In the shadows of those luxury buildings, you have independent small businesses struggling with skyrocketing rents and barely hanging on. And all over this city, men and women – often as a second or third source of income – are driving passengers around the city in their own personal cars or renting out rooms in their apartments. That’s the world right outside the doors.
  • The DNA of Entrepreneurs
    Entrepreneurship is in our DNA. America was settled by traders, merchants and explorers determined to pioneer new frontiers. Centuries later, we’re one of the few countries that reserves a seat in the President’s cabinet for the entrepreneur. As a banker, entrepreneur, and government official, I come to NASDAQ in the spirit of collaboration, because capitalism requires our cooperation. Markets work best with transparency, liquidity and efficient and effective regulation, and America works best with robust economic opportunity, forged by capital flowing freely to all segments of our society.
  • On Investors
    How do we get more investors to see the upside potential of venturing outside of their comfort zone? Silicon Valley is going through a period of introspection on diversity issues right now. Early in my career, I served on the Federal Glass Ceiling Commission, so I’m no stranger to the debate. In the mid-90s, when the Commission convened, senior leadership at Fortune 500 companies was 97 percent white and 95 percent male. Over the last two decades, we’ve made some progress in diversifying the C-suite, but not enough. Last year, the New York Times ran an article about CEOs of the S&P 1500. It ran under the headline: Fewer women run big companies than men named John. That’s right: More men named John run our leading companies than women named anything.
From Main Street to Wall Street, the state of entrepreneurship is strong. But without our serious attention, it won't stay that way

For a full transcript and to read more about the three major players in our ecosystem: institutions, investors and innovators along with incubators, accelerators and innovation research programs visit here.



The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) was created in 1953 as an independent agency of the federal government to aid, counsel, assist and protect the interests of small business concerns, to preserve free competitive enterprise and to maintain and strengthen the overall economy of our nation. The SBA helps Americans start, build and grow businesses. Through an extensive network of field offices and partnerships with public and private organizations, the SBA delivers its services to people throughout the United States, Puerto Rico, the U.S.Virgin Islands and Guam.